Friday, December 11, 2009

Le Web '09 Paris-Review and Recommendations from an Official Blogger

PARIS-Wowee! What an action- and news-packed 2 days here in Paris!Loic Le Meur (& team) pulled all the stops to gather some of the most influential web entrepreneurs and thinkers in Paris at this year's show.

From Jack Dorsey of Twitter, to Chad Hurley of YouTube, Niklas Zennstrom of Skype and Marc Simoncini of Meetic, LeWeb this year truly elevated itself to being one of the leading web events worldwide. So influential was the gathering, that #leweb trended as a top topic on Twitter for 2 days running, an impressive feat on its own.Both the BBC and CNN covered the conference.

So, as official blogger of LeWeb'09 (and someone who attended the '08 edition) how can this amazing 2-day event be summed up? What were the salient points? What lessons can be learnt to make next year's event even better (not easy!)?And for those who weren't there, what did it feel like to join the world's web elite?


First, the good bits -the LeWeb team really did listen to the feedback from last year's edition. The Wifi network worked a treat and no-one died from hypothermia this year. The food was plentiful and the Nespresso coffee flowed freely like a mountain spring.

The speakers at this year's edition were undoubtedly top notch, and covered all the main angles , plus getting Jack Dorsey to premiere his Square payment device was a real scoop. One had a feeling that speakers were as proud to be part of LeWeb as much as Loic was proud to have them present.

The Start-up contest was great -I would say almost an event in its own right, with a great selection of startups. I was particularly impressed by Hyperwords but saw many other cool concepts.I would have liked to have seen more, but ,like many people, would have required a clone to be able to attend all the simultaneous LeWeb sessions I was interested in!


Now, for the improvement opportunities...there are not many, but in the spirit of continous improvement, some are worth pointing out...the one that stands out like a sore thumb is the registration process managed by Amiando, which, frankly, was a shambles. Unlike last year, I had registered early to avoid showing up and being told my badge wasn't ready (this happened last year). So, when I saw that there was a separate, shorter queue for 'Press/Bloggers', my heart swelled. But, sadly, it was not to be. I was told that even though the sign said 'Press/Bloggers', really what they meant was 'Press'.

So, I was instructed to queue at the right 'D-F' surname section. After 30 minutes of queueing, it was my turn. 'Sorry, your badge isn't printed' was the reply when I showed my accreditation.So, back to the Helpdesk (manned by only 3 people with one printer at a conference with over 2000 attendees!!) and another 20 minutes of queueing and listening to some French swearing from other people in the queue. NOT the best way to start the day or the conference, especially when you've skipped breakfast to be at the conference venue early.

Next, the blogging process...As Official Blogger, I greatly appreciated having a dedicated space on the lower ground floor with (almost enough) power sockets and tables- many other conferences can learn a lot from this.It was fantastic!Minor points though -the process for getting bloggers' posts on the leweb main website was a little shambolic. Each blogger had to submit a link or RSS from their own blog page in order to get their post online -a much better way would have been to get their feeds from all the blogger sites in advance and link it up automatically to the main event website.

Finally, the official party at the VIPRoom was a lame duck affair, with drinks shockingly priced at €20 a pop and a venue lacking in atmosphere or entertainment value. I understand there was no sponsor -but that is no excuse. If having no sponsor means that no effort is made, then it would have been better to pull the plug on the event. Plus, I heard from attendees of earlier LeWeb editions that these parties used to be great-let's bring the old days back!


There were many great things about the event, so it is difficult to focus on one or two of them as best memories of the conference, but if I had to choose, I would say the salient point was the speech by Queen Rania of Jordan -impactful, up-to-date and elegant. (a queen who personally checks out her tweets-how cool is that!) A real case-study in how a public figure can change the world.

Next best, Gary Vaynerchuk shook things up nicely on stage in the second day of LeWeb with his freewheeling style and sometimes coarse language -it was good to see someone challenging the status quo and sharing contrarian views freely with the audience.

Finally, I claimed my 5 seconds of fame at LeWeb this year!At the end of the event, Loic announced some statistics on the conference (see photo above) about #no. of connected devices, #of iPhones and network usage. Low and behold, I had managed to become the data upload king of leweb, with 15.64 GB of data!!Quite an achievement at an event with 2300 expert web users all competing for bandwidth!


Overall, a big well done and thank you to Loic, Geraldine and the team for LeWeb 09 for delivering such an informative and enjoyable event. Thanks to LeWeb, Europe becomes the centre of the wired world for two days every year, an outstanding achievement by any measure.